December 11, 2013 at 11:19 am , by Julie Hiltbrunner
Frog issues at the Hiltbrunner Cottage:
So Randell (my husband) says there’s a giant frog in the kitchen last night. It’s a big fat frog the size of my palm. Apparently, he’s been living in our orange tree pot that’s been in the kitchen since the weather got cold. He came out… got a drink in the dog’s dish got himself back up into the orange tree pot and tucked himself in. What’s funny is that he(I think it was him, although I didn’t catch his name) did this last year, also. Came in with another potted plant. That time Jack found him chilling on the dog bed.
We moved here with a pet frog and then let him go. Now this one has adopted us. Seems to be a nice symbiotic relationship with the orange tree. It’s about to give us some nice large mandarin oranges. The dog doesn’t mind him at all. I guess he can stay.
Dec 7, 8:46am
Haven’t left the house except to go sledding in more hours than I care to count.
I have elected myself Chief of Kitchen duties to break up the monotony.
The dreaded duty of wrapping the Christmas presents is complete.
As is customary, on Friday night, I made brownies.
The dog has been acting strangely.
She is clearly suspicious of of us despite (or perhaps because of) being given bacon and waffles. Perhaps she thinks we are fattening her up to eat her. This is not the case as we have plenty of provisions for at least a month. After that it’s anyone’s guess.
Day Three – Dec 8
Hardly any signs of life in the neighborhood. I have washed, dressed and applied makeup as to maintain a sense of normalcy. Cookies are baked. Little interest has been taken in their sugary gooey goodness. Word has come that the highways are shut down for a machine with hundreds of tiny drills to break up the ice. We have been warned to stay away. I heard the men discussing a place called Terraria where there is great wealth to be mined in the form of gold. Maybe we shall depart for this wonderful place.
Day Four- Dec 9
I saw the UPS truck go by. That was today’s excitement.
If school doesn’t open tomorrow I am going to freak out. Seriously, parents claim they send their children to school for an education. No, we send them there so that we don’t have to be with them 24/7. Jack has been great though. He has hardly annoying behaviors. I however am “Mom” when he is around. In his presence, I do not feel free to be the inner me that is not the Mom me, the me that turns up the radio and dances around the house and sings badly at the top of my lungs me. Jack doesn’t like that me. Neither does the dog but she fortunately doesn’t have the ability to report on me when the people return.
Also, I like to cuss like a drunken sailor now and again. This is do not do with children present. Tomorrow I will use my car to leave this place and the judgemental canine behind for several hours. I will blast the car radio and the other mommies will not shake their heads.
Day Five- Dec 10
There will be trouble if school does not open tomorrow. There is still a hip high ice drift on my front porch. The UPS man will probably fling my MIL’s gift at the front door. I don’t blame him. I would not risk life and limb over a silly package for the family that didn’t even try to clear the ice monstrosity. I’m getting out today if it kills me. It might,but I don’t care. I need to see humans that are more than 4 feet tall. I’ve been surrounded by these tiny creatures with large eyes that say I’m bored the minute “screen time” is used up.
I asked one of these “bored” creatures to vacuum my living room. You’re not bored if you refuse to vacuum. Get to work little neighbor’s child.
It’s been days… days… so many days… The jackass weather man who said it would reach 40 degrees today LIED. How do these people keep their jobs?!! Now the high says it’s going to be 33 degrees. If there is no school tomorrow the next entry will come in the form of a collect call from the county lockup. You may not want to accept the charges.
Day Six – Dec 11
Apparently the powers that be have found my updates humorous and would like my torture to continue. Yesterday, “they” said there would be a 2 hour delay in opening school. The “roads” are still icy, they said. It’s dangerous, they said. “They” pulled the wool over my eyes and the rug from beneath my feet. I was sleeping in for the last day of my sentence when the call came that, no, in fact there would be NO school today.
You know what’s dangerous… leaving me trapped in a house with small children, a dog, a hibernating frog and a blender. Rumors that I am running a child labor camp have no truth to them. These children have no skills outside of the virtual worlds they have created. No skills and no muscle tone. Drop and give me fifty you little munchkins…
October 25, 2013 at 7:32 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
Silversmyth (a.k.a. me) has had a busy week getting several Silversmyth projects started. I’m doing these lovely hexagon pendants that will be wedding jewelry for a delightful couple in Oregon. They are going to be machine engraved with a meaningful phrase. I expect they will be very elegant when complete.
I’m working with some techie and marketing people to get make some necessary upgrades to the Silversmyth website which will include some social media buttons so you, my lovely readers can like my jewelry on Facebook and post to Pinterest. How awesome will that be?
And I have a number of engraving projects that are finished, need to be photographed, and then shipped off tomorrow.
My jewelry is almost entirely shipped out of state. It’s unfortunate that I hardly ever get to meet my customers in person. Most are in the lower 48 but I do have a few in Hawaii, Europe and Australia. Most of my orders get custom engraving and mostly they want my wonky hand engraving.
I’ve spent most of my life embarrassed of my handwriting which is why it amuses me so much that people now actually pay me to have me engrave my writing style into their custom jewelry items. This picture below shows some of my writing in a wide band infinity ring. I do send out some of my jewelry for machine engraving. Hand engraving suits artisan type jewelry better than machine engraving. Machine engraving looks best on book charms.
Here’s where you can see what I have for sale currently: http://silversmyth.bigcartel.com
I have some items on Etsy, also http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSilversmyth
October 4, 2013 at 10:04 am , by Julie Hiltbrunner
So, I’ve been thinking about making more adjustable rings, because people’s sizes fluctuate. And sometimes you want to give a ring as a gift and you don’t know the recipient’s exact size. I’ve heard all kind of funny tales of my customers trying to discretely find out their significant others’ ring sizes.
I love this color combo: 5mm Green Peridot and 5mm Blue Topaz in Sterling Silver Bezel Settings.
Also, I used to make piles of small inexpensive adjustable rings. They are fast to make and are beautiful. So stay tuned… more like this to come in different color combinations. And specific colors or stones you’d like to see please post a comment below. I’m always open to suggestions.
September 30, 2013 at 12:37 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
I’ve taken up gardening more seriously this year. I blame the Cuisinart my dear husband gave me for Christmas. It turned me into a real “foodie,” you know, a lover of all things delicious. The Cuisinart came with a recipe book that is really fantastic. Rosemary Olive Bread, Artisan Bread and Old World Apple Pie (soooo delicious!).
Praying Mantis are beneficial bugs so he can hang out in the basil as long as he wishes.
So I’ve taken time away from silversmithing to get my hands good and dirty. I’m still making jewelry as orders come in, of course. But I’m just letting my whims carry me from project to project.
This spring we planted a variety of plants but the big producers were the basil, yellow squash and tomatoes. For a while there I was making a bottle of tomato sauce a week just too keep up with what was coming off the roma tomato plant. We started with one food garden in the spring and now we have 4 gardens, one of which is inside in my garden tub, which gets a lovely abundance of filtered light from the East.
Yesterday, I saw a gourmet salad on Pinterest.com. It had pea shoots and tendrils. I had no idea the leaves of the pea plant were edible. I was so excited I snipped off a few shoots and tendrils and added them to the salads we had with dinner. I googled and found an article that said that cutting the pea shoots off actually helps the plants branch out more and produce more sugar snap peas. Sweet!
I planted these sugar snap peas on August 27th and they are about 7 inches tall today, September 30th. They are the perfect size for the top 4 inches to be cut off and eaten. The shoots have the same flavor as a sugar snap pea but a bit milder and they are soft like lettuce. They don’t even need dressing.
Cutting back the basil has had the same effect as the article mentioned for the peas. Every time I cut several inches off the top of the basil, the plants make more branches and fill out. I have to cut back the basil every week and dry it because I love pesto but we can’t consume nearly the quantity this crop is producing.
How to dry basil:
Pick off any yucky leaves such as brown spotted or chewed on by bugs. Wash and shake off excess water. Place a large hand full of stems and leaves in the microwave on a paper towel. Set the microwave on defrost setting and run for 1 minute. Remove it from the microwave, rearrange the leaves and then put it back in for another minute. The aroma will permeate your house. When the leaves will crumble easily you can rub the stems between your hands and the basil will break into tiny flakes. Toss out the stems. If you find part isn’t crumbling it can go in the microwave again to finish drying. I store mine in zip lock baggies because all the spice bottles are already full.
We have lots of green tomatoes on the vine and I would love to make fried green tomatoes but my jeans are too tight today… so I’d better lay off the fried foods for just a bit.
June 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
In case you can’t find a link to my online store… here it is: Silversmyth
The link needs to be prominently displayed somewhere on the main page.
Updated the Theme for Silversmyth: The Blog today. It’s going to take a bit to get the kinks ironed out. Like for example, the error message on the left side of the page. Don’t have a clue how to fix that yet. If you know, I’m all ears.
Silversmyth is a small mom owned business so I’m doing most everything for myself around here. Like making myself this lovely ring, for example.
June 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
This won’t spoil much if any of the movie if you haven’t seen it yet… but I highly recommend World War Z. It was action packed but should not keep you up at night. It certainly will give you some things to think about. Here are 5 ideas everyone should take away from the movie.
1)The government(s) aren’t equipped to handle a major crisis. They might offer you a deal to protect you and your family but they will renege on that deal the minute you aren’t looking. Have a plan to meet up at a specific location away from your home if a major disruption occurs. Don’t depend on the government to supply you with what you need. Have enough supplies in your house for a short term bug-in scenario. These are the most common types of emergencies. But if it turns into a sustained situation…
2) You need to quickly adapt to your new set of circumstances. You may need to abandon your car and all your stuff. In a real emergency, the kinds of which has hit many countries around the world in recent years, there is a strong possibility that all your preparations are just going to have to be left behind, except those you carry in your mind and pockets. And it’s going to happen when you least expect it. Sometimes to survive you have to adandon your familiar surroundings and high-tail it. So, being in a good state of physical fitness is never a bad thing.
Now, that I think of it I don’t remember seeing a single fat zombie. That’s really funny actually. I guess we kind of usually think of zombies as people climbing up out of graves like in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. They are always skinny and have limbs that hang rather uselessly. They didn’t used to seem like tough opponents. Those were the zombies of the past, apparently.
3) Thinking is the most important key to survival. Part of thinking is remembering the key pieces of information you have obtained and filtering out the extraneous. Observation is key. You put the pieces together and you must form conclusions.
4) You may be forced to steal what you need. In the fight for survival, animals will steal from each other. Remember that you are an animal. The number one goal is to make it out of your set of circumstances alive. Get what you need and protect what is yours.
5) When you are out of safe options try something dangerous. Try the best idea you can come up with because if you stay put, you die. You gotta know when to walk away… know when to run.
June 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
Yesterday, I made this men’s… it has a nice inscription with the outline of a heart followed by Heather’s name. I liked this picture because the reflective surface of the white background captured the clouds in the skiy while I was taking the photo. And then ALL DAY Carly Simon’s song, “You’re so Vain” got stuck in my head, which prompted the discussion about what the lyrics really are.
See back in the day when I was a kid (before the Internet Revolution.) Life was Hell! We couldn’t just check the lyrics on the internet and win the argument… or lose as would normally be the case for me as I always get lyrics wrong. So the clouds in the background made me think of the line “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee” but see I thought it was, “I had some dreams there were clouds in my coffee.” Anyway, I went over to YouTube played the song to figure it out and hence… song stuck in my head all day. But actually that’s fine because I had “three thousand five hundres miles away what would you do if you could…” stuck in my head for two weeks now. Why is it that I never could get the higher level multiplication tabes stuck in my head?
Now, I’m not sure if those are actual lyrics or not. I think it’s Counting Crows. Next thing, I need to do is do some research on how to rid myself of an ear worm (as in a song that gets stuck in your head) without actually replacing it with another ear worm.
At least this lyrical misunderstanding wasn’t as bad as when I got those lyrics from that theme song from Flash Dance wrong. I thought it wasn’t “Take yourr passion and make it happen.” I thought she said, “Take your pants down and make it happen.”
I just leave it at that.
And for the record… it’s a Whiter Shade of Pale… not a Wyatt Erp Shade of Pale.
Please leave a comment if you know how to get rid of an ear worm…
December 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
A prospective customer, Raquel, called with a very unusual request. She wanted a guitar that looked like Geddy Lee’s Bass Guitar ( had no idea who Raquel was talking about) and wanted it on a money clip. Raquel’s friend had been using a paperclip to hold his cash. He’s a big fan of the band Rush. The first step of any project for me is actually making the sale. We have to agree on a price. Figuring out all the materials that will be needed and how long the project will take is essential. A quote with a detailed drawing of my concept is emailed the customer. If he or she wants to move forward, I email an electronic billing. When it’s paid, any materials that are not in stock need to be ordered.
In this case, I needed to order a manufactured money clip. I sculpted the original guitar out of polymer clay. I keep polymer clay in the studio because detailed designs are easy to sculpt into it and then oven harden, thereby making the model ready to be molded. Some stiff plastic covered beading wire was perfect to be the guitar strings on the tiny sculpture. The guitar had to be sculpted slightly larger than the money clip to allow for the shrinkage that was to occur later in the process.
The guitar was placed on the flat bottom of my molding frame and well mixed two part molding compound was pressed down on top. After 30 minutes the poly clay guitar was removed from the mold. I mixed up some silver metal clay and pressed it in to the mold and cut away the excess. After a few minutes I released the wet guitar from the mold and trimmed away and extra clay. Then I made an additional guitar copy. The silver metal clay guitars were left to dry out overnight.
In the morning, the guitars were dry. They were fired and cooled and ready to solder to the sterling silver money clip. After soldering one guitar to the money clip and adding a ring to the other it was time for finish work. The money clip was blackened in Liver of Sulfer and then given a brushed finish. The black portions of the guitar were left black and the white parts were polished to create visual appeal. I then engraved the gift recipient’s initials on the rear of the money clip.
Took photos of both guitars and wrapped up the money clip for delivery.
I arranged to meet Raquel for coffee and deliver the money clip in person. The money clip was presented in a Silversmyth box tied with ribbon. Raquel loved how the bass guitar money clip turned out and was excited to give this special gift.
The necklace is available for sale. For questions and custom order requests please email: email@example.com
September 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
This is a Thumb print. It’s a simple process to get a print custom made for you.
After I bill you for the charm/pendant and it’s paid; I send you a container with some pink clay and some white clay. Quickly mix them together until the color is uniform. Roll in a ball and then pat it flat. Immediately squash your thumb or finger into it and count to 5 and then carefully remove your thumb. Let the clay sit for 30 minutes. Pack it back up in the box I sent you. Attach the return label enclosed and give to your Mail Carrier. Wait patiently for a few days while I use the mold you made to craft you a perfect replica of your fingerprint. Then I ship you back a lovely fine silver or sterling silver replica of your print. It will have a ring through it so it can be attached to a charm bracelet or necklace unless otherwise arranged. Arrives in a Silversmyth gift box with ribbon.
This is a great gift for sentimental moms, dads and grandparents who would love a keepsake from when their kids were small. It’s one of those cherish forever type gifts. Want to make one of each grandkid for a charm bracelet for grandma? I can combine shipping and reduce pricing for multiple prints shipped together. I’d also be happy do discuss making a piece of jewelry or putting together a necklace.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on Custom Jewelry.
September 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm , by Julie Hiltbrunner
Happy accident?! After I fired the first pmc heart out of the mold it was curved so I hit it with a hammer like I usually do with metal…and broke the broken heart in 2 pieces. So, it needed some repair work. It’s reinforced in the rear with a sterling silver Silversmyth tag soldered across the crack and in the front with a Band-aid. I’m keeping this one. Because I’m wearing it and I love it. Buuutttt…